DATE OF EVENT: Monday, Jan. 30, 1939
DATE PUBLISHED: Tuesday, Jan. 31, 1939, in The Kansas City Times
Editor’s note: When Lucile Bluford sent her transcript to the University of Missouri’s graduate journalism school in 1939, she was accepted on the basis of her grades. When she arrived to enroll, she was turned away because she was black.
Bluford sued in federal court in an attempt to enter the school, and the judge eventually ruled against her. Bluford never would attend MU’s journalism school, which did not admit a black student until more than two decades later. She went on to serve as editor of The Kansas City Call and to be awarded an honorary doctorate from MU in 1989, 50 years after it refused to grant her admission.
Columbia, Mo., Jan. 30 — A young Negro woman entered the registrar’s office here today and presented an enrollment card certifying she was ready to enter the journalism school of the University of Missouri.
“I’m Lucile Bluford, managing editor of the Kansas City Call,” the young woman said. “I want to do some graduate work in journalism. I sent you my transcript of credits from the University of Kansas and you approved that, so I guess I’m all set.”
While a registration official stared at the enrollment card and the transcript showing Miss Bluford to be a graduate of the University of Kansas, the young woman chatted with other officials in the office, calling each by name.
“But it doesn’t say on your transcript that you’re a Negro,” the registrar’s assistant said finally.
“I thought the Lloyd Gaines decision settled all that,” Miss Bluford said.
The registration officials informed her the question of whether a Negro might attend the university still was pending in the courts. Miss Bluford was the first Negro to seek to enter the university since Lloyd Gaines, St. Louis Negro, won in the United States Supreme court a reversal of a state court decision denying him the right to attend the school of law.
After Miss Bluford’s attempt to register today, the board of curators of the University of Missouri made public a statement of the university’s stand.
The board stated that pending the final outcome of the Gaines case the curators could not alter the long established policy against admitting a Negro to the university.
Since there is no school of journalism at Lincoln university in Jefferson City, the effort of the Bluford girl to enter that division of the university here parallels the effort of Gaines to enter the law school. Law is not offered at Lincoln university.